“Not enough time” is a chronic condition for most business owners.
And here’s the rub: The times when you acutely feel the need to work on your business so it can grow without taking more from you than you have to give are also the very times when you feel most pulled to work in your business, because there’s work that has to get done.
That’s a vicious cycle.
A whole industry of productivity solutions has sprung up around the question of how to get more done in less time. While to-do lists, time-blocking, note-taking systems and eliminating distractions can help with your efficiency, even the best productivity tools can’t transcend the absolute limits on time. You’ll still run up against the reality of not having enough time to do all the things that you need to get done.
At that point, difficult decisions must be made, because something has to give. One possibility is to work extra hours. Another possibility is to stop doing some of the work you’re trying to get done. Both of these options could work, but they’ll probably feel impossible unless you have some context to help make well-informed choices.
Try these three questions.
Question #1: What do you want your life to be like?
Picture your ideal life. When your business is working the way you want it to, what will you be doing? Where will you be and how will you feel? Who’s with you? What will you choose to do with your time and the money your business produces for you?
If you need help painting a clear picture of the life you want, try making a list of things you do want and a list of things you don’t want. Accept that you deserve and can have the life you want, and that’s one of the best reasons to own a business.
Making your way toward the life you want is one of the results that should matter most to you. Keeping it front and center will help you make decisions about investing your time.
Question #2: What do you want your business to be like?
The business you want is another result that should matter the most to you.
One of the great benefits of owning your own business, compared to having a job and a boss, is that you actually get to have it your way. This isn’t just a place to go to work, it’s a place to realize your dreams.
And, you can create it in a way that doesn’t depend on you, that actually gives you more life and energizes you rather than drains you. Your business can be a world of your own that reflects your vision and values.
Question #3: Where’s your time going right now?
When you’re doing tactical work—the direct work that needs to be done to produce and deliver your products and services—you’re spending time working in it. You should get a short-term result in exchange for spending your time tactically. It’s what keeps the doors open and the revenue coming in.
But you won’t get a long-term return from tactical work because the work depends on you. If you want to keep getting the result, you have to keep doing the work. The more you stay in the habit of working in it, the longer it’ll take you to have the life and the business of your dreams.
When you’re doing strategic work—the kind of work that guides the direction of your business, makes it possible for others to do work the way you want it done, and plans your growth strategy—you’re investing time working on it. You won’t always see a short-term result from investing your time, but you can realize a return on it. The sooner you spend at least some of your time on strategic work, the more progress you’ll make toward the life and the business of your dreams.
Deciding what to do with your time when there isn’t enough to go around is challenging. So let this be your frame of reference: You can spend time tactically, and you can invest it strategically.
The right combination keeps your business functioning today and sets you up for the results you most want in the future. Finding that balance may take some temporary sacrifices, but it’ll make all the difference between having a business that stays dependent on you and having one that truly serves your life.
If you'd like to discuss how you can be more strategic in your day-to-day, sign up for a free coaching session with us.
We'll help you clarify your next steps and how you can see your business from a 10,000-foot view so you can start to work on it, not just in it.